Heyyyy lovely humans, soulful people, stretchy, loving 5:00 attending Monday/Wednesday kids. Here’s my story and how I got here, cliff note version. Well, kind of.
First off, of all the times I’ve shared my story, I’ve never done it for a yoga studio. Let alone the badass one that is Yoga Squared. So buckle up, buttercup. It’s about to get real.
Through junior high and high school I started to notice my negative mindset, habits, diet, and life. I wanted to play softball less and get high and sit on my couch more. I was deep in addictive behaviors, on all kinds of medication, struggling with self-harm, the need for acceptance, and the urge to be in a drugged out state every day. I failed out my senior year, lost my license, car, sense of self, friends, and the ability to look in the mirror or even the ability to FEEL. I was a mess. For the sake of you and the possibility that you’re reading this while eating breakfast, I won’t share an old photo of me. Ask me sometime and I’ll be glad to laugh at one with you.
In the deep of winter 2009 I woke up. I realized I wanted change but I didn’t know what that meant. I was 19, lost, and spiritually bankrupt (I always joke around now like why didn’t my mom just throw me some lavender oil when I was in high school? Anyway. Hakuna matata). Maybe you don’t know what rock bottom feels like. Maybe it wasn’t as dark as mine, but know that we all have a story and some parts of our story hang in the depths of the ocean until we get saved by a hot lifeguard that eventually brings us to the surface.
I mean, it wasn’t a hot lifeguard. But it was close to that feeling.
I started getting my high school diploma, hanging out in the basements of therapy buildings, stopping hard drugs, and eventually started doing yoga on YouTube. I mean there’s no wrong way to find your body and breath- except maybe not to at all, right?
On the third floor of a not so great building, in which I lived at the time, I’d do small stretches and be like “this feels good, I could get into this”.
It wasn’t until I got completely clean, jumped into recovery and gained more weight (you know how we do) that I went to my first studio in 2011-2012. I googled a studio near me and couldn’t believe there were some in Akron. Why didn’t anyone tell me these sweet places existed? That’s how I feel now. It was hot, it felt long, but it felt like I finally took a breath. I remember that first class like it was yesterday. It’s funny, some people will tell you “they won’t remember what you say but they will remember how you made them feel” and that’s what I got out of that. I felt a small reconnection with my body.
Since that first moment on the mat in a community class, I started going more regularly. I took a break for a little and attended small classes at my university, and checked out some other studios In the meantime. I barely remember first having the vision of possibly teaching yoga someday. I mean, I stumble on my words, speak too fast, have a lisp, all of that. But guess what? I didn’t crawl out of rock bottom to chill on my ass. I wanted to soar.
So… I enrolled in yoga training 200 hour level in 2014, and loved every second of it. I jumped around from job to job, found one at an in inpatient drug treatment, continued school for my bachelors in social work, moved around, went through a break up, reevaluated my life, traveled, traveled again, went to another workshop for self-love-and-radiance-through-your-freakin-heart-chakra-goddess-self-awareness-whatever, went to another, wash-rinse-repeat… until 2017.
Last year, after reading about it for months, I finally jumped to Indiana to attend the Yoga through the 12 steps workshop (Y12SR). I obtained my certificate here to be more professional in the area of teaching yoga to recovering addicts. DAMN! Talk about my life dream, eh? I went to the codependency breaking barriers training after that in Virginia. I can’t get enough teaching, learning, reevaluating. I love it.
I want to tell you that life got 100% better when I got clean, started doing yoga, and that I float on through life with no problems eating vegan cookies and enjoying every moment of every single day. But, that’s not the truth. I still struggle with things. I still get in my head with negative thinking, that I may not be good enough, smart enough, etc. That I am not good enough to do anything extraordinary. I learn over and over again that isn’t true. That’s not my truth. How dare I sit on my butt and not learn more, when I can help save more lives, help ENRICH lives? If I received so much help from the support that saved my life, how dare I hold on to the gifts and not share it with others? Keep moving, growing, helping, laughing, joking, pushing forward. Yoga helps with that. You deal with yourself on the mat in the poses and breathing and being, and then you do it out in the world. We all have crap. How are you going to deal with it? I like the messy parts of life too, because if they challenged and changed you, it will help someone else. Always.
All of this inspiring-crap-that-sounds-lame-if-you-havent-changed-a-whole-lot-and-continue-to-do-so is probably the fire that has brought me to today. That helps me teach my 5:00 Monday/Wednesday spiritual badass all level flow. That pushes me to teach the girls in rehab about life. That pushes me to go to advanced yoga training to attain my 500 level.
I love what I do, love sharing it with students, and I love helping young girls that seem lost, like I was. I enjoy making people laugh, taking way too many photos of the people I love, rollerblading, volleyball, writing, goofing off, eating good food, singing over vegan chocolate chip cookies, traveling, blaring girly indie music, challenging people to look within, and chasing my freakin dreams. Shout out to Nikki and Kate, for being there always, and giving this girl a chance and a space to do cool stuff.
Overall, I knew recovery for me (and we are all recovering from something) had to do more than just my mental and emotional space between my ears and the 12 inches from my heart to my head. I knew my body needed to move. My suggestion for new students is find something you love doing that is good for you and jump in with both feet. Learn about yourself. Do something and regret it instead of saying shoulda woulda coulda. Don’t should on yourself. Do it. Be patient with yourself, quit looking at the person next to you on their mat, and enjoy the prana life force that springs from the bottoms of your hippy feet to the top of your beautiful head. You’re human. You’re spirit. You have so much to share and grow from and learn and love. And if I can transform, so can you.